The Closest Living Relative to the Dodo Bird Captivates with Its Beautiful Rainbow Colored Iridescent Feathers

During our school years, along with dinosaurs, and the mammoth, we immediately learn that the dodo bird is in the list of extinct animals. What few of us know is that the dodo bird has several living relatives today, including the Nicobar pigeon. This dazzling and rare creature is the closest relative to the flightless bird.

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You're Worrying About the Wrong Bees | WIRED

Honey bees will be fine. They are a globally distributed, domesticated animal. Apis mellifera will not go extinct, and the species is not remotely threatened with extinction. The National Survey of beekeepers released last week reported the lowest winter hive losses of the last 8 years.

The bees you should be concerned about are the 3,999 other bee species living in North America, most of which are solitary, stingless, ground-nesting bees you’ve never heard of. Incredible losses in native bee diversity are already happening. 50 percent of Midwestern native bee species disappeared from their historic ranges in the last 100 years. Four of our bumblebee species declined 96 percent in the last 20 years, and three species are believed to already be extinct…  

That wouldn’t be a big deal, if commercial honeybees could pick up the slack. They can’t.  Managed honey bee colonies supplement the work of natural wild pollinators, not the other way around. In a study of 41 different crop systems worldwide, honeybees only increased yield in 14 percent of the crops. Who did all the pollination? Native bees and other insects.

^ This.

The Sixth Extinction

This chart shows the enormous uptick in species extinction over the last century.  

Paul Ehrlich and others use highly conservative estimates to prove that species are disappearing faster than at any time since the dinosaurs’ demise.

There is no longer any doubt: We are entering a mass extinction that threatens humanity’s existence.

That is the bad news at the center of a new study by a group of scientists including Paul Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies in biology and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Ehrlich and his co-authors call for fast action to conserve threatened species, populations and habitat, but warn that the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

“[The study] shows without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event,” Ehrlich said.

Although most well known for his positions on human population, Ehrlich has done extensive work on extinctions going back to his 1981 book, Extinction: The Causes and Consequences of the Disappearance of Species. He has long tied his work on coevolution, on racial, gender and economic justice, and on nuclear winter with the issue of wildlife populations and species loss.

There is general agreement among scientists that extinction rates have reached levels unparalleled since the dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago. However, some have challenged the theory, believing earlier estimates rested on assumptions that overestimated the crisis.

The new study, published in the journal Science Advances, shows that even with extremely conservative estimates, species are disappearing up to about 100 times faster than the normal rate between mass extinctions, known as the background rate.

“If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on,” said lead author Gerardo Ceballos of the Universidad Autónoma de México.

Using fossil records and extinction counts from a range of records, the researchers compared a highly conservative estimate of current extinctions with a background rate estimate twice as high as those widely used in previous analyses. This way, they brought the two estimates – current extinction rate and average background or going-on-all-the-time extinction rate – as close to each other as possible.

Focusing on vertebrates, the group for which the most reliable modern and fossil data exist, the researchers asked whether even the lowest estimates of the difference between background and contemporary extinction rates still justify the conclusion that people are precipitating “a global spasm of biodiversity loss.” The answer: a definitive yes.

“We emphasize that our calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis, because our aim was to place a realistic lower bound on humanity’s impact on biodiversity,” the researchers write.

To history’s steady drumbeat, a human population growing in numbers, per capita consumption and economic inequity has altered or destroyed natural habitats. The long list of impacts includes:

  • Land clearing for farming, logging and settlement
  • Introduction of invasive species
  • Carbon emissions that drive climate change and ocean acidification
  • Toxins that alter and poison ecosystems

Now, the specter of extinction hangs over about 41 percent of all amphibian species and 26 percent of all mammals, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which maintains an authoritative list of threatened and extinct species.

“There are examples of species all over the world that are essentially the walking dead,” Ehrlich said.

As species disappear, so do crucial ecosystem services such as honeybees’ crop pollination and wetlands’ water purification. At the current rate of species loss, people will lose many biodiversity benefits within three generations, the study’s authors write. “We are sawing off the limb that we are sitting on,” Ehrlich said.

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Image Source: International Union for Conservation of Nature

I want to make something crystal clear to people:

Animal agriculture is one of the biggest drivers of climate change. Climate change is going to kill 100 million people by 2030. By 2050, up to 37% of all species will become extinct. By 2100, the planet will be up to 11 degrees hotter, the oceans will become too acidic to support most of their ecosystems

This is not a Disney movie. Nobody will save the world. And unless you examine your lifestyle, and realize that your diet and actions have fatal consequences, there is no happy ending. We will likely die, along with most of the life on Earth, and it will have been easily preventable by simply not eating animals.

Cats are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as one of the 100 worst non-native invasive species. […] They have caused or contributed to 14 percent of all modern bird, mammal and reptile extinctions.”

    - A Cat-Eat-Bird World

A global warming event that occurred 56 million years ago raised the average temperature by about 10 degrees Farenheit over 175,000 years, causing 1/3 of all mammal species to shrink. It’s estimated that today’s greenhouse gas emissions could raise temperatures the same amount in only a century, and animals that couldn’t evolve quickly enough would likely go extinct. Source Source 2

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Racing Extinction

Soon these beautiful creatures could simply be a memory.

Scientists predict we may lose half the species on the planet by the end of the century. They believe we have entered the sixth major extinction event in Earth’s history. Number five took out the dinosaurs. This era is called the Anthropocene, or ‘Age of Man’, because the evidence shows that humanity has sparked this catastrophic loss. We are the only ones who can stop it as well. 

The Oceanic Preservation Society, the group behind the Academy Award® winning film THE COVE, is back for “Racing Extinction”. Along with some new innovators, OPS will bring a voice to the thousands of species on the very edge of life. An unlikely team of activists is out to expose the two worlds endangering species across the globe. The first threat to the wild comes from the international trade of wildlife. Bogus markets are being created at the expense of creatures who have survived on this planet for millions of years. The other threat is all around us, hiding in plain sight. There’s a hidden world that the oil and gas companies don’t want the rest of us to see.

Director Louie Psihoyos has concocted an ambitious mission to call attention to our impact on the planet, while inspiring others to embrace the solutions that will ensure a thriving planet for future generations.

More important films here.

Happy World Turtle Day!

Turtles have been on this planet for over 200 million years. However, in a relatively short time (since the rise of humans) they have become threatened – 44% of known turtle species are officially considered critically endangered or vulnerable to extinction.

Today, 23 May, is World Turtle Day. We’ve dived in to The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians and discovered some amazing facts about these ancient creatures – what’s your favorite fact about turtles from the five below?

  1. A turtle’s armor shell is unique in the animal kingdom, made of two parts (the back and front) it generally comprises around 50-60 bones.
  2. Most adult turtles and tortoises have a shell length of at least 13cm (5in). The world’s smallest species are the Speckled cape tortoise, Flattened musk turtle, and Bog turtle, whereas the largest living turtle is the Leatherback seaturtle, whose shell reaches up to 244cm (96in).
  3. Although turtles are slow on land, due to their massive shells, when they enter the water they can reach speeds of over 30km/hour (18.6mph).
  4. Some species of turtles migrate over 4,500km (that’s 2,800 miles) to make their nests – which is like travelling the length of the United Kingdom 4.5 times. Whereas others have nesting frenzies, when over 200,000 females nest on the same small beach over two days.
  5. Some aquatic species of turtles don’t just breathe using their lungs – some can also respire through their skin, the lining of the throat, and through thin-walled sacs, or bursae, in the cloaca.

Images: 1) Squirtle, by mem0. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr. 2) Turtle, by Hiroaki Home. Public domain via Pixabay.

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We’re deeply saddened to report that Angalifu passed away at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on Sunday due to complications from old age. With Angalifu’s passing, only 5 northern white rhinos are left on the planet, including Nola, the Safari Park’s elderly female. Angalifu’s genetic material has been stored in the San Diego Zoo Global Frozen Zoo with the hope that new reproductive technologies will allow recovery of the species. This is a tremendous loss, and we invite you join us in our commitment to work harder to ‪end extinction‬. Please re-blog this to spread the word about the plight of rhinos, and take action now.